Fix: Internet Explorer black screen issues

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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Internet Explorer (IE) may, at certain inconvenient times, display a black screen instead of the particular web page requested by the user. It’s like, one moment, the web browser is working fine and the user surfing the internet, and the next moment, as you try to open another web page, a black screen is displayed.

Once that happens you can’t do much on the particular webpage. It is an endlessly irritating problem. Similar issues have been faced with the Firefox browser, Google Chrome, and other browsers.

As a Microsoft product, Internet Explorer is the default browser for Windows PCs. It’s safe to assume this black screen problem has affected quite a few Windows PC users. There are a couple of solutions you can use to solve this problem, which we will discuss below.

Possible causes of the black screen problem in Internet Explorer could be that the web page may have a feature or features which trigger rendering conflicts with the graphics processing unit (GPU).

Third-party software add-ons and extensions you have added to your Internet Explorer could also be causing the same rendering conflict. These would result in an Internet Explorer (IE) fault and, consequently, the display of a black screen, among a whole host of other problems.

Yes, they are designed to speed up web page rendering and enhance features of software applications. But the graphics processing unit (GPU) and some software add-ons, when handling certain web page features, may cause the display of a black screen in Internet Explorer (IE).

How to fix the black screen issue in Internet Explorer

  1. Check for pending Windows updates
  2. Turn Off Hardware Acceleration In Windows
  3. Uninstall or remove add-ons and extensions you recently added to your IE browser

Solution 1 – Check for pending Windows updates

Before you change anything on your Windows and Internet Explorer settings, you perhaps need to check if there aren’t any Windows updates you haven’t effected on your machine. Maybe your PC is not set to automatically updates and patches. Microsoft has tried to fix this issue by setting Windows 10 Home PCs to automatically receive updates but users running older versions still have an option to opt out of automatic updates.

Failing to update your OS can sometimes cause incompatibility issues with new features. A patch for the same problem you are encountering may even have been released. So it is a good idea to always check for any available updates. Depending on the Windows version you are running, simply typing check for updates in the Windows search bar is all you need do.

update windows

Here, my PC is set to automatically receive updates. So I know my PC is up-to-date and can safely proceed to this next fix.

Solution 2 – Turn Off Hardware Acceleration In Windows

A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized processor in the class of hardware accelerators, that speeds up the manipulation and creation of images for output to a display unit, such as a computer screen. This is meant to improve the PC‘s user experience, which in this case is the user’s web browsing experience

The graphics processing unit renders images more efficiently and faster than is possible in software running on a more general purpose, central processing unit (CPU). Internet Explorer takes advantage of the capabilities of the graphics processing unit to speedily display images.

At times the graphics processing unit, commonly referred to as the graphics card, may not be powerful enough to handle a specific feature or features on the requested web page, resulting in a conflict and rendering fault in Internet Explorer.

Fortunately, the use of the graphics processing unit to speedily render images is optional. The user can toggle between software rendering and GPU rendering; thus turning hardware accelerator rendering on and off.

One of the best ways to fix the Internet Explorer black screen is thus to simply turn off the GPU rendering feature as follows:

  1. Click the Windows Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel. This opens the Windows operating system control panel and enables you to change Windows settings and customise the functionality of your computer.
  3. Click Internet Options to open Internet Properties. This enables you to configure your internet display and connection settings.  internet explorer properties
  4. Click the Advanced tab. This opens the Settings folder.
  5. Under Accelerated Graphics, turn on the feature Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering by checking its box. By turning on this feature you will have automatically turned off Graphics Processing Unit rendering. disable hardware acceleration for Internet Explorer
  6. Click OK.
  7. Restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Remember the request to use software rendering instead of GPU rendering is effected in the Windows operating system, not in Internet Explorer(IE). Internet Explorer uses the internet display and connection settings in the Windows operating system.
  8. Launch Internet Explorer and check to see if the problem still exists.

If the black screen problem still crops up, try this next fix.

Solution 3 – Uninstall or remove add-ons and extensions you recently added to your IE browser

Add-ons, plug-ins, or browser extensions are pieces of software that enhance or modify the interface and behavior of web browsers. Add-ons, in particular, cannot run on their own but are used by Internet Explorer (IE) and other browsers to interact with web content like videos and games.

Add-ons can sometimes cause performance problems in Internet Explorer (IE), making the browser run slowly or crush, as in the internet explorer black screen issue. Perhaps less desirably, add-ons may also pose security or compatibility risks. Only install add-ons that are useful for your browsing experience. Make sure these are from trustworthy developers that have good reviews.

You can turn off specific add-ons to speed up your browsing speed or, as in this case, fix problems you may be facing with your Internet Explorer. Your Windows computer has quite a number of add-ons that come pre-installed and the OS avails ways for you to manage these for Internet Explorer. The add-ons are split by their type, such as;

  • Toolbars and Extensions,
  • Search Providers,
  • Accelerators,
  • Tracking Protection, or
  • Spelling Correction.

You can view your installed Add-Ons for Internet Explorer by opening the Tools folder in your browser and selecting the Manage Add-ons folder. From these, select the ones you recently installed and disable them one by one, checking to see if the problem still occurs after every add-on you disable.

To check, you may need to open the exact pages where you encountered this problem as this issue seems to mostly happen with certain pages and sites. To disable them, follow the following steps;

  1. Launch Internet Explorer (IE).
  2. Select Toolsdisable Internet Explorer add-ons
  3. Select Manage Add-ons.
  4. Under the Show drop-down menu, select All add-ons.
  5. Select the required add-on. disable Internet Explorer add-ons and toolbars
  6. Select Disable.
  7. Select Close.

It’s a prudent practice to limit the number of add-ons you use. Some periodic housekeeping by deleting add-ons you are no longer using from your computer will also help.

These fixes should help fix this black screen problem in Internet Explorer browser. If the problem persists even after exhausting the fixes we discussed here the last option you may have is to raise a support ticket with Microsoft. With other browsers you could simply uninstall the browser and install a new version from scratch. But being the Windows OS’s default browser, this option may be a little tricky.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.